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SA's ICT sector likely to suffer from cabinet reshuffle

SA's ICT sector likely to suffer from cabinet reshuffle

South African president Jacob Zuma's overnight cabinet reshuffle has been characterised as regressive for the country's ICT sector by one industry analyst.

The changes include the appointment of Ayanda Dlodlo as new Minister of Communications with Thandi Mahambehlala as her deputy minister.

While the Minister of the department of Telecommunications and Postal Services retains his position, he will now work with a new deputy minister in Stella Ndabeni Abrahams.

Steven Ambrose, ICT industry analyst and CEO of Strategy Worx believes the leadership changes to the cabinet overall and those in departments overseeing the ICT sector appear to be unjustified.

"The cabinet changes appear to be politically motivated and not based on any rationale that makes any sense from a performance and or capability perspective. There will be inevitable delays in any current programmes and even more condition and delay in spectrum allocation and the proposed white paper on telecommunication implementation."

Retaining the minister of telecommunications and postal services Siyabonga Cwele will go some way to maintain continuity for that ministry according to Ambrose, compared to the wholesale change in the department of Communications which was previously led by Minister Faith Muthambi.

The department of communications has experienced several delays on some of its programmes including migration to digital terrestrial television, which is yet to get underway in South Africa - nearly two years after the deadline set by the ITU.

Several African countries, among them Malawi, Kenya, Lesotho and Tanzania have come out ahead of South Africa with their migration processes either underway or already completed.

Mish Molakeng, spokesperson for the department of Communications was unable to confirm whether the newly appointed Minister and Deputy Minister would be attending a Broadcasting Digital Migration public awareness campaign which was to be led by the previous Minister along with North West province provincial government executives.

"It remains a project of the department of communications and senior officials of the department will be there. It will go ahead with or without the new political principals."

Ambrose says the changes will translate into further delays for initiatives such as migration to DTT.

"Considering that any minister has at best 18 months before the next election. The latest reshuffle will create massive delays and policy issues for a department that needs to be nimble and effective. The new ministers have no background or experience in the ICT or telecommunication arena. And this does not bode well at all."

Raise the ire of all

He believes the latest changes to the national executive should raise the ire of all South Africans.

"We should be incensed by all these constant reshuffles. Changes in ministers always leads to changes in director generals (DG). The DG needs to be highly competent and experienced especially in the telecommunications area. There is no real separation between party and the administration, so no professional public service exists. As such, with each reshuffle it takes time for the entire department to settle down and to start working effectively."

Michael Jordaan, founder of ICT investment firm MonteGray Capital tweeted the order of what he anticipates will be a downward spiral in the economy overall following the President's cabinet reshuffle.

"Rand freefall, higher inflation, higher interest rates, slower growth, less employment, less taxes, higher deficits, (credit rating) downgrade."

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